It is well known that children with Autism have difficulty with eye contact. In fact, lack of good eye contact with others, can be one of the firs signs of ASD. The reasons vary from the brain of someone with autism not being able to understand social cues to a sensory processing disorder. Parents and teachers often search for strategies to assist with better eye contact and opinions vary as to weather it should even be encouraged at all. Some parents feel that it is simply their child's nature to avoid eye contact and it should not be enforced or even encouraged. With that said, being supportive of a child's nature, strengths and abilities is always at the forefront. I'd like to offer some simple strategies for those who'd like to encourage better eye contact for their child with autism:
1) Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Have your child look into the mirror at himself. You can even take a wipe erase marker and draw a face and have the child look at the face in the mirror. Have him discuss the colors he sees, the shape of the eyes. Ask him to draw his own face.
2) Social Board Games: Choose a board game that involves acting or socialization such as the Social E Motion board game. Games such as these encourage interaction and face-to-face contact.
3) Greetings: Practice greeting people with your child including handshakes, smiles and eye contact. Sometimes it helps to tell your child to look "through" the person to the other side.
4) Pets: Sometimes people with autism can relate better to pets than to people. Have your child practice eye contact with your cat, dog or hamster.
5) Skype: Video chatting does not demand eye contact, but you can work on it and the person on the other end can be aware so they can assist. Start with mom and dad and then move to grandma or a friend.
6) Art: Work with your child on drawing or creating faces with focus on the eyes.
Let us know if you have other strategies that work as well and share them with us on Facebook!